After Yan Shi Ning left, Yan Jing paced the calligraphy room.
A while later, Yan Shi Ting’s frown changed into a smile and she wanted to fly. She acted reluctant to receive the pair of jade bracelets from Yan Shi Ning, but she loved the jade bracelets.
Yan Jing strode into Yan Shi Ting’s chamber while she was admiring the jade bracelets.
Yan Shi Ting looked up at her father who appeared upset about something. ‘Father, what’s wrong?’
Yan Jing sat beside Yan Shi Ting. A maid was about to pour tea for him but he stopped the maid.
‘Pour me a bowl of water,’ Yan Jing said.
‘Father, why do you want to drink water?’ Yan Shi Ting asked. ‘This is rare tea, the empress gave it to me.’
Yan Jing held Yan Shi Ting’s hand and smiled at her while the maid poured water.
‘Shi Ting, you’re an adult now and about to be start your own family,’ Yan Jing said.
Suddenly Yan Shi Ting felt a sharp pain on her finger and retrieved her hand.
‘Father, what happened?’ Yan Shi Ting asked.
Yan Jing was satisfied a drop of blood fell into the bowl of water. ‘Nothing. I think this bowl is dirty. I’m going to exchange it for a clean bowl.’
Yan Jing didn’t wait for Yan Shi Ting’s reply, he carried the bowl of water outside.
In the courtyard Yan Jing pricked his finger and a drop of blood fell into the bowl of water. Indeed his blood and Yan Shi Ting’s blood didn’t merge and he flung the bowl of water onto the ground.
Yan Shi Ting was startled by the strange sounds of a broken bowl.
Yan Jing didn’t know how he left Yan Shi Ting’s courtyard. His legs felt heavy, his whole body felt cold and his hands were shaky. Princess Kang Hua deceived him for more than sixteen years!
Yan Jing remembered that year Yan Shi Ting was born.
‘Little sister Hua, is Shi Ting my blood daughter?’ Yan Jing asked. ‘Say it clearly!’
‘Big brother, what else do you want?’ Princess Kang Hua asked. ‘Aren’t you wearing the headgear you wanted? If you don’t believe me then I’ll die for you to see. How can you suspect I would deceive you about this? Look at Shi Ting, doesn’t she look like you? Look, her blood and your blood merged. What else do you want?’
Yan Jing’s heart was teared to pieces. He was a prime minister of a kingdom but his second wife and her daughter deceived him for more than sixteen years! He wore a headgear of a fool for more than sixteen years! Indeed it was a laughable situation.
A while later Yan Jing kicked down Princess Kang Hua’s door.
‘Everyone leave!’ Yan Jing ordered the frightened maids and servants while he looked coldly at Princess Kang Hua.
Princess Kang Hua was married to Yan Jing for many years. She knew if he was angry and didn’t want anyone to hear what he wanted to say to her then it was something shameful… her face whitened, perhaps Yan Jing received those two letters.
‘Everyone hurry and go outside!’ Princess Kang Hua ordered the maids and servants that were stalling inside the chamber.
After the maids and servants left, the atmosphere in the chamber was tensed and silent.
Princess Kang Hua refused to open her mouth first. She didn’t want to confess anything she wasn’t forced to.
Yan Jing was repulsed by Princess Kang Hua’s beautiful face. ‘Kang Hua, I haven’t mistreated you. Why did you deceive me to this extent?’
‘I… I… what did I lie to you about?’ Princess Kang Hua denied.
Yan Jing heard Princess Kang Hua’s lie and his head ached. ‘You still want to deceive me? Say it clearly, is Yan Shi Ting yours and your older cousin’s daughter? No, she isn’t a Yan! That bastard child doesn’t suit to be a Yan!’
Princess Kang Hua felt like there were coffins in all four directions. Indeed paper couldn’t defeat fire and her deceit was exposed.
‘You don’t need to deceive me anymore!’ Yan Jing said. ‘I know everything! Earlier I tested that bastard child’s blood and my blood. You can’t deceive me anymore. Kang Hua, I truly want to kill you. Because of you, I left my wife and daughter. But you treated me like a fool. You’re scum! Scum!’
Yan Jing swore and cried for a long time. Indeed he was an unpleasant sight.
Princess Kang Hua dug her fingernails into her palms and she looked at the angry man in front of her. Suddenly everything ended. The days and years of anxiety finally ended.
Princess Kang Hua straightened her back and looked coldly at Yan Jing. ‘What can you do?’
Princess Kang Hua realised it no longer mattered that Yan Jing knew the truth.
‘You dare to kill me?’ Princess Kang Hua asked. ‘Do you dare to tell everyone Shi Ting isn’t your blood daughter? Do you dare to tell everyone she is the daughter of your second wife rolling in bed with another man? Yan Jing, I know you well. You value pride, reputation and status of a prime minister. You wouldn’t cause yourself to lose dignity even if your true heart is ugly. In front of other people you would act dignified. Prime Minister Yan, isn’t he someone other people respect? What respect? You wouldn’t be prime minister if you didn’t marry me! You say that I’m scum. But between the two of us, who is more of a scum?’
Yan Jing’s face paled, he couldn’t refute Princess Kang Hua’s words.
Princess Kang Hua smiled coldly. ‘Even if Shi Ting is a bastard child and isn’t a Yan or even if you’re disgusted, you can only tell everyone she is your daughter! Don’t forget, the wedding is in three days. Yan Jing, that year because of your ambition you abandoned your wife and daughter. Today because you were deceived for more than sixteen years, can you abandon this marriage? Abandon the chance to be the future emperor’s grandfather?’
Yan Jing didn’t refute Princess Kang Hua’s words. He silently stared at her cold arrogant face and felt his heart rotted. It was true, he wouldn’t kill her or expose Yan Shi Ting’s identity. He was going to swallow his grievances otherwise another person would use it as an opportunity to steal his position.
Yan Jing felt defeated. ‘You’re right! I desire success and status. This is my retribution. Kang Hua, from today onward there is no marriage between us. I never want to see you again.’
Princess Kang Hua watched the man she loved for decades leave without looking back at her. She sat and the memories appeared in her head.
Princess Kang Hua remembered that year she was a young lady. Her young self saw Yan Jing for the first time, he rode a horse. Afterward she met him at the former prime minister’s manor and decided she wasn’t going to marry anyone else but him. She confessed to him but he rejected her because he had a wife. So she put lust herbs into his wine and he slept with her. The following morning she was certain he would take responsibility but he rejected her again and apologised to her.
Princess Kang Hua thought her young self was laughable. She was a princess and lowered herself to love that kind of man but he rejected her love! From that day she vowed she would do anything to hold onto the man she loved. So she lied to Yan Jing, ‘I’m pregnant. Big brother, if you don’t marry me then I’ll tell everyone about what you did. I’m a princess, I’m not going to accept being a second wife. You have to divorce your wife.’
Yan Jing rejected the young Princess Kang Hua again. He said he would rather die than divorce his wife and she was forced to accept being a second wife.
After Yan Jing married Princess Kang Hua, she thought her fake pregnancy would become a real pregnancy. But he rejected her again, ‘You’re pregnant, there’s no hurry.’
The newly wedded Princess Kang Hua anxiously watched a few days past then she thought of a plan and acted out her plan. She remembered that night was a sensual night but it wasn’t with the man she loved. So each time she remembered that night, her heart ached.
Princess Kang Hua’s memories faded and she absently walked around the gardens.
A leaf fell onto the ground. Princess Kang Hua picked it up, the leaf was brown like her heart. More than sixteen years of marriage disappeared in front of her. It ripped off her mask and ended her love. She smiled coldly and muttered to herself. ‘I still have Shi Ting! I have a daughter that will be empress! That’s enough! I wasn’t wrong! Everything happened because those people forced me!’
End of Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Nine (Part 2 of 2)
Pei Jin’s throat constricted.
‘Do you need to investigate this?’ Bei Dou asked.
‘Yes, someone killed Consort Chen because they didn’t want her child to be born,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Behind her is Huang Guo and her other relatives. They feared for her life after she adopted me, especially when she was pregnant. The person used the Fu Gui poison to kill Consort Chen, her unborn child and to leave me unprotected. Destroying the roots by using one arrow to kill three birds is indeed a brilliant scheme.’
‘The empress has always been a cruel schemer,’ Bei Dou said.
‘But I don’t know why they would poison Shi Ning,’ Pei Jin said.
Initially Pei Jin thought Princess Kang Hua hated Yan Shi Ning and wanted to kill Yan Shi Ning. But Yan Shi Ning said that she received the incense sticks less than a month ago. If Princess Kang Hua truly wanted to kill Yan Shi Ning then Princess Kang Hua would have begun to poison Yan Shi Ning the moment she arrived at the Yan Manor instead of waiting for two years.
‘This scheme also uses one arrow to kill two birds,’ Bei Dou said. ‘The empress doesn’t want you to have children and Princess Kang Hua wants to kill your wife. If your wife dies in the Yan Manor, people would be suspicious. But if she dies in your manor, no one would suspect them.’
Pei Jin’s father had three adult sons including himself. Apart from seventh prince’s daughter who was two years old, his other adult brothers didn’t have children. The court officials were concerned about future successions. If one of his father’s sons gave his father the first grandson then it would affect which prince the court officials would support.
‘I have never been involved in their battles for the throne yet they won’t let me be,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Then why don’t you battle?’ Bei Dou asked. ‘You suit the throne more than them.’
‘Bei Dou, you don’t need to keep persuading me to change my plan,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I know you want to avenge your family. When there is the right opportunity I’ll help you avenge your family. But now isn’t the right opportunity, you need to be patient and not do anything reckless. Also, I want to remind you that I only want to be a carefree prince.’
Pei Jin strode out of Bei Dou’s chamber. Bei Dou glanced at Pei Jin’s back and he felt a little disappointed.
Bei Dou remembered his promise to Pei Jin five years ago.
‘I can save you but you need to promise me not to recklessly avenge your family,’ Pei Jin said.
Bei Dou promised Pei Jin to stay alive. He followed Pei Jin for five years and for five years he tried to persuade Pei Jin to fight for the throne. But Pei Jin’s reply was always the same, ‘I have no desire to be emperor.’
While Bei Dou was wondering if Pei Jin truly had no desire to be emperor, Pei Jin was looking for Yan Shi Ning.
Half way to his and Yan Shi Ning’s chamber, he saw her hiding behind a fake rock mountain and waving a fan. He didn’t know who she was spying on.
Earlier Yan Shi Ning had changed into a comfortable dress then she took a stroll around the gardens. But she didn’t expect to accidently see Su Yue pulled a young maid between twelve and thirteen years old to a fake rock mountain.
‘Little vixen, I’ll let you grow a new face,’ Su Yue threatened.
Yan Shi Ning loved to watch lively performances. In the two years she lived at the Yan Manor she almost died of the Yan Manor’s dullness. Of course she wouldn’t let go of a lively performance and secretly followed Su Yue and the young maid.
Yan Shi Ning eavesdropped on Su Yue and the young maid and understood what happened between them. In the morning the young maid followed Pei Jin’s order and cooked chicken soup. Then in the afternoon Su Yue sneaked into the kitchen and ate a portion of the chicken soup. The young maid returned to the kitchen and caught Su Yue eating the chicken soup and scolded Su Yue that Pei Jin said the chicken soup was for Yan Shi Ning. Su Yue waited for no witnesses to bully the young maid for daring to scold Su Yue.
Su Yue cursed and hit the young maid. ‘The moment you saw ninth prince’s wife enter the manor, you want to gain his wife’s favour. You’re wasting your energy. She’s only a poor unloved little girl inside the prime minister’s manor. Ninth prince only married her because he was forced. What does it matter if I eat chicken soup? Do you think ninth prince would hit or curse me? Open your eyes wide or I’ll force you to see properly!’
Su Yue slapped the young maid’s cheek. Su Yue’s fingernails were long and sharp. Yan Shi Ning couldn’t see clearly if Su Yue accidently or purposely scratched the young maid’s cheek, but a little blood dripped down the young maid’s cheek. The young maid cried out in pain and tears flowed down her cheeks.
Su Yue wasn’t satisfied enough and kicked the young maid’s body until the young maid fell on the ground.
Su Yue left the young maid crying on the ground. After a while the young maid struggled to get off the ground and left the fake rock mountain.
Yan Shi Ning slipped and was surprised she fell back into Pei Jin’s chest instead of the ground.
‘Big brother, what are you doing here?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘I came to see the lively performance too,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I thought you would ask for justice on behalf of the young maid.’
Pei Jin thought Yan Shi Ning would jump into the fight and slap both of Su Yue’s cheeks to avenge the young maid.
‘I remember someone said Su Yue has a special background,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘If I reprimand her then it would cause trouble for someone.’
Pei Jin was initially surprised Yan Shi Ning held back in consideration of him. But he realised the Yan Shi Ning he knew would think of a way to discreetly deal with Su Yue.
End of Chapter Nine (Part 2 of 2)